US: Volkswagen ends relationship with self-driving startup Aurora

Volkswagen (VW) has ended its relationship with self-driving startup Aurora, and will soon enter into a partnership with Ford’s autonomous unit Argo AI.

Earlier this year, VW and Ford announced the launch of a new global alliance to develop vehicles together. VW stated, “The activities under our parameters have been concluded in regard to Aurora,” and that talks with Ford “are progressing very well,” according to the Financial Times.

Three sources revealed that VW declined to renew its contract with Aurora after projects recently ended, and that a partnership between VW and Ford’s Argo AI would allow the carmakers to reduce costs, while still maintaining control over the development of hardware and software. Though one person said the break with Aurora was amicable, another source claimed that VW was underwhelmed by Aurora’s technology.

“Volkswagen Group has been a wonderful partner to Aurora since the early days of development of the Aurora Driver. As our Driver matures and our platform grows in strength, we continue to work with a growing array of partners who complement our expertise and expand the reach of our product,” stated Aurora.

Founded less than three years ago by three self-driving pioneers from Tesla, Uber, and Waymo, Aurora announced a deal this week with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to make autonomous commercial automobiles. Aurora, backed by Amazon and Sequoia Capital, will integrate its technology into FCA’s Ram truck vehicles, which also extends to cargo vans. (The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.) Once the cars are manufactured, they could potentially be used by any third-party company, including Amazon, for self-driving delivery vans.

“As part of FCA’s autonomous vehicle strategy, we will continue to work with strategic partners in this space to address the needs of consumers in a rapidly changing industry,” said FCA CEO Mike Manley in a statement.

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